Paying for Pollution Cleanup in India with a Small Benefit

If you read our earlier post on India’s Amazing Pollution Story, you will know that great things are happening in that country. Plans are in the works to clean up ten of the country’s worst polluted sites, which Blacksmith helped to identify.  The cleanup will be funded with some of the many millions raised by India’s coal tax.  But as with all large, expensive projects, it will take time.

That is why efforts like our benefit for India, held earlier this month, and our upcoming golf benefit in September are so crucial.  They raise smaller amounts of money that can be put to immediate use.

A few years ago, money raised at one of our benefits was used to fund emergency work in Nigeria during the lead poisoning outbreak, which killed hundreds of young children. We needed to act quickly and we could.

This year, our benefit for India brought in enough funds not only to continue our work in India, but also to launch a new project in Khan Chandpur, a village of 1,200 people in Kanpur, the leather hub of India.

The village is one of about 30 surrounded by some 350 leather tanneries that have polluted the region’s water source with toxic chromium, the same type of carcinogen made infamous in the movie Erin Brokovich. Khan Chandpur is one of the most polluted villages in the area.

Blacksmith will use $30,000 of the amount raised at the gala to provide Khan Chandpur with a tanker of clean water twice weekly for six months while we survey for a cleaner source of drinking water and work to lay down pipes and install hand pumps to bring that water to the village.  We will also raise awareness about the dangers of drinking contaminated water by putting on street plays, posting signs and giving out pamphlets.

Of course more money will be needed to fund a long-term solution to clean up the pollution and to halt the discharge of untreated toxic waste by the tannery industry. But with just $30,000, we will be able to launch this quick fix, which will start saving lives sooner rather than later.

Thank you for making our very first benefit for India such a great success. We are grateful for the support of Karti Sandilya, our honoree, and the committee: John Ambrosini, Brij Anand, Samantha Zinober, Andy Pucher, Sid Sandilya, Colin Stewart and Charlotte Triefus. Thanks also to our master of ceremonies Henny Sender, and our keynote speaker Andrew Blackwell, the author of “Visit Sunny Chernobyl.”

For more information about Blacksmith’s work in India, contact sarita@blacksmithinstitute.org

Here are some photos from our first ever benefit for India.

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